Forum on Conscious Capitalism Business Force for Good Social Venture Lab @ NUS

December 8, 2014 – NUS Enterprise’s Social Venture Lab @ NUS organized a series of events with the Family Business Network Asia as part of its efforts to equip businesses with tools to be a force of good. Its first forum of the series titled “Business, a Force for Good: Forum on Conscious Capitalism“ saw attendees that included social enterprise practitioners, non-profit organizations, impact investors, enablers, students, as well as corporations looking for ways to grow their social impact.

The event started with a keynote presentation by Bart Houlahan, the co-founder of B lab. B lab leads a movement of formally recognizing sustainable and socially-responsible organizations via its B Corporation certification and the Benefit Corporation legal form. Bart also described B Analytics, a data platform to articulate social value to investors. Certified B Corporation is present in 33 countries, and has certified more than 1,000 corporations in more than 80 industries. He mentioned that legal approaches are important for investors, companies, and municipalities to identify and assess the impact of socially responsible portfolio companies, suppliers, and local partners.

The next speaker Law Gin Kye from Family Business Network Asia shared his personal journey of identifying a cause in addressing needs of poor communities in Malaysia, and saw an opportunity in linking a financial services company to serve the unmet needs of communities not previously reached as customers. This public-private partnership initiative gained traction amongst locals and beneficiaries, and received support from the local government.

The speakers discussed various key success factors and challenges when encouraging businesses to commit to creating social impact in their organizations. Reinforcing Bart’s point about encouraging companies to become Certified B Corporations, Calvin stressed the importance of measuring the financial impact of socially responsibility.

“Companies can articulate the incremental value attributed to social innovation by identifying key performance and financial indicators in five key domains: (i) Securing dependable sources of supply; (ii) Innovating inclusive products; (iii) Developing new markets; (iv) Enhancing distribution channels; and (v) Building their brands,” he said.

The speakers concluded that to ‘move the needle’ in encouraging companies to become a force for good, essential ingredients include more cross-sector collaborations, clearer legal standards and recognition systems, widespread recognition for industry champions, as well as mutually-beneficial international and local public-private partnerships.